Around 95% of cybersecurity breaches happen because of human errors. Cybercriminals and hackers always follow the weakest link of a business’ security system.
Enterprise data is permanently at risk nowadays and the chink in the armor is not represented by technology alone. In fact, employees are responsible for most cyber-attacks, due to their negligence at work and lack of knowledge in the field of information security. Falling victim to cybercriminals can ruin a corporation entirely, regardless of its size.
The immediate consequences include financial loss, customer trust loss, gaining a stained reputation and more. These effects are long-lasting and they can only be avoided if business owners become more aware of the importance of safeguarding their data.
The first step in the process is offering training to all employees. Even though the majority of business owners fear the consequences of a cyber-attack, they choose not to provide regular training on data protection and information security.
Concurrently, business owners stated that they rely on their employees to avoid data breaches. Putting better policies in place to train employees on a regular basis and adjusting the security measures to the current requirements dictated by cyber trends should be in the attention of all company owners. A few tips on how to introduce cybersecurity in your own company are listed below.
Data protection responsibilities
All entrepreneurs should take precautions regarding the protection of their customers’ personal information. This falls into the responsibilities of employees, who must be given clear instructions about what they have to do. Regularly training employees to follow the listed responsibilities in a company is the only way to ensure that data protection is as far as possible from failure.
Business owners should learn how to educate their employees about the matters that could minimize the risks of cybersecurity breaches that can affect their companies in multiple ways. The practices that all businesses that make use of customer data should adopt include, but are not limited to:
- Carefully read the data protection regulations applicable in the respective state
- Setting passwords for all the electronic devices that are used for data storage
- Locking business phones while they are not used
- Not leaving business/personal devices that may include sensitive information unattended in public
- Logging out of business accounts on all devices after finishing work
- Disposing old electronics and data storage devices safely
The first aspect that should be covered in cybersecurity training is password management. The average password security score is 46% in medium-sized companies and 50% in small companies. The numbers are worrying, considering that only a few organizations proved to have an average score of more than 80%. What is even more concerning is the industries that are most prone to being attacked by cybercriminals had the lowest password security score – IT, insurance, health, finance, governmental organizations. The size of the business is not an excuse for not applying proper password management principles. Training must cover:
- Teaching employees how to make their passwords complex enough (15 characters, upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, special symbols)
- Setting up a schedule for changing passwords on a regular basis and teaching employees how to cope with these frequent changes
- Training employees that they shouldn’t have a casual attitude regarding the data security at work and place their trust in a friend with their password
- Avoiding the mishandle of passwords by storing them in inappropriate places where others could access them (e.g. the Sony password leak due to the folder marked “Passwords”)
Business owners must judiciously analyze to whom they provide administrative privileges. These privileges can transform a secured company in a vulnerable one in a matter of a few clicks. Employees who can install and use unauthorized software put the company’s data at risk. Cybersecurity professionals revealed that more than half of organizations enable full control to the employees over their electronic devices, without running proper inspections on a systematic basis.
The misuse of privileges is a serious organizational threat that can be both intentional and unintentional. Using unauthorized software comes with a series of risks that can only be avoided through training and restrictions. Violating or ignoring the procedures that are established at a company level could compromise the entire organization in just a few minutes. To prevent unintentional use of unauthorized software that proved to be malicious, training should focus on:
- Closing the open door for cybercriminals by explaining the purpose of no administrative privileges granted to employees
- Defining and describing threats such as malware, spyware, unlicensed software, pirated software, and unsupported software
- Mentioning the consequences of software license abuse (financial penalties, legal action, damaged equipment, etc.)
- Enforcing the list of software products that can be used within the company
- Teaching employees about control measures such as lockdown, filtering, layer blocking, tracking download activities and more
- Training employees how to use threat detection programs and what steps to make after a malicious element is detected
- Raising awareness on the cost of a potential cybersecurity breach and the consequences that the person who is responsible may face
With the aim of mitigating the risk of data breaches, entrepreneurs are ought to provide employees with extensive training. The insider threat is the biggest enemy of businesses, aside from how big or small they are. It is paramount to mention that there are two types of insider threats: the employees who were not granted with enough information related to data security and the employees who purposefully want to harm the organization (rogue employees).
Training can only alleviate the risks for insufficiently trained employees. In contempt of the amounts of money spent on securing electronic devices, the vulnerability is still represented by employees and the efforts can go downhill in the absence of training, so all entrepreneurs should turn their attention to addressing this issue.